RAVEN MACK is a mystic poet-philosopher-artist of the Greater Appalachian unorthodox tradition. He does have an amazing PATREON, but also *normal* ARTIST WEBSITE too.

Tuesday, December 31


So I dropped a new book called Life in Chaotic State... Then Silence, which is a collection of renga poetry I wrote in monthly batches on twitter. The feature renga was done October of 2018 during a three-week period where I rode the Amtrak from the east coast down south, out to California, had a week-long residency there, did a haiku slam in Oregon, then rode the [t]rain back through the upper midwest and Chicago, back down to Charlottesville. It's a pretty great book in my opinion, as are the other ones. All are available on Amazon, or from me in person.


depending on luck's blessings 
to survive these squeezing times 
of diminishing returns 

Monday, December 30


channeled into thinking that 
economic theory should 
allow brain to rule the heart 

Sunday, December 29


all humans have paths laid out 
before them - many of which 
are traps designed by others 

Saturday, December 28


trapped behind manmade fences, 
as much mentally as it's 
true and real physically 

Friday, December 27


fetishizing the simple 
life, made too complicated 
by the shackles of progress 

Tuesday, December 17

25-Man Metaphysical Roster: LEICESTER CITY FC

{Vardy, always flapping about} 

[25-Man Metaphysical Roster is a football metaphysics methodology utilizing dork methodology of minutes played over the past 100 club competitive club matches to determine which 25 players constitute the strongest psychic force on a club’s current trajectory. Then intuitive analysis is conducted utilizing football metaphysics, performed from an un-American soccer fan’s perspective. We do this every 1st and 15th of the month, cycling through the 20 clubs currently in the English Premier League, because it is the top domestic league based in an English-speaking country, which as un-American miscreants, we were all born to be saddled with this limited, segmented tongue of the global colonizer, oppressor, and capitalizer. Also, it is what comes on TV here in the USA most prominently, where we live. And yet, it is really important we clarify we hate English, and also America. Maybe we hate ourselves. Our panel consists of chairman Raven Mack, director tecnico Paul Robertson, and director rudo Neil Bulson Our individual contributions to this 5000 words of gibberish will be noted by our name at the end of the blurb. If you enjoy this absolutely free internet content from an un-American soccer perspective, VENMO US FOR OUR METAPHYSICAL LABOR @ravenmack23.]

Well, I guess we should discuss the footballing metaphysics of this Leicester City club full of foxes, allegedly. They’ve contradicted the odds and somehow found themselves in second place behind a streaking Liverpool club, which to be honest this is as unlikely a situation as when they won the Premier League a few seasons back. But that begs the question… if they’ve found themselves in these impossible circumstances twice in short-term memory, is it all that impossible? Or are our preconceptions of Premier League dominance by the big six clubs perhaps in need of re-evaluation? Of course that’s shite talk, because the big six have revenue streams nobody else can compete with, and that’s part of what makes this Leicester City run well ahead of 5 of the big six, and even Wolves and Sheffield United having pretty good seasons, at least still ahead of Arsenal, so wonderful. We want to believe all our institutions are true meritocracies, and nowhere is that as true in the sporting world as the English football system, where conceivably a scrappy generation of footballing bastards could all find themselves in the Vanarama South Conference all at once, and carry their club through loyalty and dedication to each other all the way to the top tier. Now of course none of our institutions are as meritocratic as they posture, and cash still rules everything around us, so those big six revenue streams put them at their own level, which also means Arsenal or Manchester United or Chelsea sitting in 9th or 10th place, outside of European competition qualification, is a catastrophe equal to relegation. It is their metaphysical relegation, thus the opposite of that is a metaphysical promotion. Leicester City is achieving that, for the second time in half a decade. That’s amazing. And I’m not sure where Paul and Neil are gonna come in on Leicester, with the LOVE fist or HATE first striking harder, but I love it. This season particularly, Leicester’s been playing a ridiculously fun form of football to watch. Strangely, manager Brendan Rodgers previous eight seasons have been entirely within the realm of the football metaphysics crew’s club allegiances, from my Swansea City to Neil’s Liverpool to three seasons at the helm of Paul’s Celtic. Rodgers is one of those two-to-three season type managers, who’s personality either bores or weighs too heavy after time, and the mutual need for moving on arrives. So Rodgers being able to steer the existing Leicester City roster into second in his first half-season in charge is very exciting. If they can hold onto a Champions League spot (seems likely right now, but one never knows), it’ll be even more interesting to see how Rodgers can juggle that dual commitment with a less massive roster than he had at Liverpool. But that’s too far into the future. Let’s look at who is here right now, and helped build this Leicester City culture on the actual pitch… [RAVEN]

#1: KASPER SCHMEICHEL (up one from last time Leicester City was metaphysically ranked on 15-Jan-2019; also number one for Leicester City once before, so his SECOND METAPHYSICAL STAR) – Danish GK cornerstone to Leicester, in his 9th season minding the posts for the Foxes. That's three seasons in their last Championship run, working all 46 matches of each of those seasons, plus other cup duties, for over 50 matches those three years. First season after promotion, he suffered an injury that shelved him for a while, but he became first choice again once fully fit. He played every match of their title-winning season in the Premier League as well, and has played every PL match last season and thus far this as well. He's been the rock in back that allows all the movement and attack up front, playing on his head at times. He was a Man City youth academy prospect, and fuck man, think about the difference in life trajectory of having the constant loans and never settled feel of remaining in that exploitative system to landing somewhere and playing for nearly a decade. Schmeichel is Leicester, even bearing witness to the helicopter crash in October of 2018 that killed then club owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha. Solid football metaphysics is a GK from an overlooked corner of Europe, generally Balkan or Polish or a former Soviet space, but Schmeichel fits the bill as well coming from Denmark. In fact, when I think about some of the basic footballing metaphysics key ingredients Paul and I have babbled about privately for years, Leicester City seem to have most the checkboxes ticked off. [RAVEN]

#2: WILFRED NDIDI (down one from last time, so also previously ONE METAPHYSICAL STAR) – A big key to Leicester's title run five seasons back was N'Golo Kante, who had the speed and craft in the midfield to be the fulcrum for Leicester's attack then, which allowed them to surge beyond expectations. Kante was the one star from that roster to leave immediately in the summer of 2016, where he went to Chelsea to do the same for them, before disappearing into the quagmire of too much expectations that happens at the big six clubs more often than not. I bring all this up because Ndidi, the young Nigerian, is operating in the same capacity for Leicester this season. Also a member of the Nigerian national Super Eagles team, that philosophy of football is more open and hype, and Ndidi's presence helps add that pace to Leicester, which feeds guys like Jamie Vardy and Ayoze Perez perfectly. And in true Nigerian immigrant fashion, football alone is not enough for the young Wilfred, who also married his girlfriend since their teens, Dinma Fortune. She is a model, but also a med student. Ndidi also began studying for a Business and Management degree at university this fall as well. Nigerian hustle is incomparable, on the pitch and off. Sadly, Leicester's shock second place position likely has put Ndidi on the radar of other's, and there's already been a clamor by Arsenal supporters to see him in a Gunners kit come January. [RAVEN]

#3: JAMIE VARDY (same as last time) – I know us non-traditional intellectual types is supposed to hate on Vardy, because he certainly seems to be just some trash ass Englishman far too much like a racist Brexiter casting hatred upon anyone with even a hint of brown to the last four generations of their family tree. But let’s be real here – a key component of football metaphysics is being the physical embodiment of previous historical poor choices, which compound into your very DNA, and somehow you navigate the predisposition of poor choice probability, to not only defeat your own self-destruction somehow, but also thrive in a belligerent and unapologetic manner. That’s Jamie Vardy. The dude has a sense for goals, and is benefit of not having European matches to wear him out with. On top of this, he has seemed even more possessed this season in comparison to the previous few, likely because, for a person who comes from poor choices, your sensible decisions are also poor. So Vardy marries a trophy wife, like all prominent footballers, and his trophy wife is a hot mess, like many, but unable to handle it, to the point that Vardy’s ol’ lady, Rebekah, was suspected by Wayne Rooney’s wife of leaking private information to the press. So Mrs. Rooney painstakingly released false information, ONLY TO REBEKAH VARDY, to see it get leaked to the press, and realize she’d found her media snitch. So Vardy’s wife gets outed as a scoundrel, and now Jamie has to answer to all this to the big boys like Rooney and others of high prominence in English football, who certainly view Vardy as common street trash, not chosen footballing heroes like themselves. All of this just feeds Vardy’s resentment and anger, which causes him to score even more, because for the man born from multiple layers of environmental poor choices, there is nothing greater than Fuck You moments. So even though Vardy might be horrible trash, he’s able to achieve these Fuck You moments, in ways that have yet to crossover into Connor McGregor territory (at least from what I’ve seen), so he hasn’t yet alienated me completely. And thus, I can enjoy him. So I do. Because honestly, fuck Wayne Rooney and his wife. [RAVEN]

#4: BENJAMIN CHILWELL (up three from last time) – Young Benjamin is one of those dudes who will be snatched up by one of the teams that roll big and he will probably fail out and get sent back to the real people who will take him in again, but it’s never the same. For now, he is a defender for Leicester but who knows what psychic energies he’s putting out, eager to take that next step where the grass is green and the girls are pretty, without abandoning the club that took him in and raised him to where he is now. And right now, he’s still all Leicester and can probably fuck anyone he wants, which is a comfortable place to be, young and full of juice, nothing holding him back. It’s always good for a dude like young Chillwell to live the life of hedonism before it all falls apart thanks to various pressures from beneath and up ahead, but that moment isn’t here yet and that means that Leicester gets a dude in an innocent moment which is some strong Psychic Energy I guess. [NEIL]

#5: RICARDO PEREIRA (up nine from last time) – Wait… I thought all Portuguese dudes had to play for the Wolves? What's this dude doing in Leicester? [RAVEN]

#6: JAMES MADDISON (up nine from last time; also previously ranked #19 for Norwich City on 01-Jun-2019) – What the hell? I think I already wrote about this dude on our football metaphysics journey, and yes, I did when we blew through Norwich City, so why the fuck did I pick him again? I don’t know. I don’t even remember what I wrote about this dude, who is actually playing really well right now for Leicester, but I imagine I riffed on his name relative to the president of the same name if not the same spelling, but anyway, young James Maddison is a breakout star for Leicester which is a cool thing to see happen outside of the big monster clubs, but which also means one of them will come along and purchase the young man like so much fancy cattle, which I just talked about with young Chillwell, which means that Leicester has themselves some hot young talent and if they could maybe hold on to them, they could make a permanent impression at the top of the league instead of chasing the ghost of that one season when they shocked everyone and won the damn league. Maybe. It’s always nice to get some new blood fucking with the established hierarchy and maybe Leicester can make this a more regular thing with dudes like James Maddison. They just have to find a way to keep him happy, and that probably means they have to establish themselves as one of the big dicks at the table. It’s a hard thing to pull off, but they already won the league once and now they’re in second place this season, so maybe they might do it. They just have to keep winning and hope that dudes like young Maddison here don’t abandon them. But that’s a hell of a place to be for James Maddison, at the top of his game, ready to be courted, and maybe he decides the high school girlfriend is the one after all and stays with Leicester, but those college girls beckon and you have to wonder if that type of presence in them yoga pants will end up uglying things up for everybody. But, for now, his energies run big and fuck the future, live in the moment baby and you’ll be okay. [NEIL]

#7: JONNY EVANS (up twelve from last time) – Northern Ireland center back from the Calvin Orange-y population of that fractured province. Evans is part of a very solid international setup that punches well-above its weight class in competitions, though with wonder boy manager Michael O’Neill double-dipping in Sassenach club ball at Stoke, we’ll have to see if that surprise was player-based or system-based—which is tough to discern, given Stoke’s current EFL Championship languishment. I don’t really know what to make of Northern Ireland as a footballing entity. As y’all probably know, any footballer born there is eligible to also play for the Republic of Ireland, and it’s pretty common for that to happen with the Green/Catholic/Republican-y kids like James McClean (he whose double middle fingers are perpetually upraised in the direction of the Queen). But then also, plenty of Catholic players that would probably make the Republic team pretty easy have stuck around and repped Northern Ireland, including Neil Lennon (though I don’t know, maybe jumping the border wasn’t an option back then). I’m pretty sure that if you’re born there, you’re also eligible for a Republic birth certificate/passport, which was genuinely funny as I read a bunch of Orange-assed Queen-loving shitheads were availing themselves of such in fear of Brexit. To be honest, I don’t see how anyone thinks Northern Ireland won’t vanish as a political entity within ten years, tops. That writing is very much on the wall, quite literally in mural form. But of course that makes me wonder how footballers from the Loyalist “community” will handle their international allegiances. But it’s pretty wack that Northern Ireland plays in a green and white home kit, at Windsor Park, with “God Save the Queen” played before matches. I don’t even get mad, it’s actually just kind of sad/tragic seeming. With the recent election events in the [not so]United Kingdom, I’m just hoping for all that bullshit to collapse. Nationalism obviously leads down some ugly paths, so I take other Lefty folks’ concerns about the dangers of hyping up Irish and Scottish national identity to heart, but at the same time, I’ve got the conviction that any political entity that ever had “empire” in its title needs to be smashed into pieces and absolutely cease to exist as any sort of geo-political construct. So I’m always going to pull against Britain, Spain, France, Germany, Russia—all the European dickery—in support of Scotlands, Irelands, Catalonias, Basque Regions, Brittanys, Galicias, Chechnyas, etc. etc. Though, fuck Turkey, China, and Japan too I guess (is there a Hokkaido separatist movement, an Ainu Revolutionary Front?) Ugly identitarian shit will no doubt emerge (I’ve seen some hard right-wing Scottish independence people up close and in the flesh, but they were also just dumbfuck Americans who [I’m hoping it doesn’t even need to be said] would benefit from some Imperial fracturing of their own). Yet let’s handle that ugliness as it comes. Break the big beast first. What does this have to do with Jonny-almost-certainly-not-a-Bhoy here? I don’t know exactly, as he’s holding it down for Leicester and hopefully he won’t be doing endorsements of Ian Paisley, Jr. [PAUL]

#8: YOURI TIELEMANS – This is another young Spirit Warrior who is bronzed in a way that makes pink people uneasy because they can’t tell where he comes from, which in this particular case is from Belgium since his Flemish daddy swept on down to the Congo and found a good woman which is horribly racist of me to say because chances are she was already in Belgium and not the other way around, I don’t want to make some gross stereotype of the white man taming the black woman or some shit as in all likelihood, she tamed him, but fuck it, I have already said too much and maybe he did swoop on down to the Congo and brought back someone unexpected which is again probably racist of me to say but I don’t know what happened and neither do you, the important thing to take away from all this is that Youri Telemans is what we should all look like if we just stopped being racist in who we choose to get down with and I know what you’re saying, you’re saying that Neil has made some poor choices in this writeup and you’re not wrong, but I just want everyone to mellow out and fuck each other regardless of the color of our skin, which is such a dumb thing to even care about because we are all one people on the inside and I don’t even know what I’m rambling about here and this is not fair to you or Youri Telemans who is just a dude who kinda flopped playing in France but who has now found new life as one of Leicester’s young stallions, and I am not trying to compare a dude of color to an animal, that’s not what I’m saying at all, and goddammit, I have made an ass of myself here but that’s the white idiot in me I guess and all I want is for everyone to be biracial and fuck a lot. That’s all. [NEIL]

#9: HARRY MAGUIRE (down five from last time) – Maguire was a key defensive component for Leicester for a couple seasons, and considered a great enough player that Man U came calling last season, then again this past summer and finally agreed to an exorbitant fee for his services to bolster their flailing defensive back line. But here's the thing - somehow I never watched a Leicester match those two seasons without hearing Maguire name come up in some dumbass mistake at some point. He wasn't part of the title squad, coming in after that, and they seem to be doing better now without him. Philosophically, if you want a wide open style of play, a big lunkheaded Sheffield boy in the back is like dragging an anchor along behind you. I mean technically, it might be a safer play, but also fuck that, safety is fucking stupid, and nobody wants to watch people be safe. Nonetheless, as a former Blade in the lower tiers of the English footballing pyramid, one can only hope Maguire struggles mightily enough at Old Trafford that he ends up back with Sheffield United in the Premier League, where he enjoys a half-decade renaissance. (Also, I have apparently shifted into a hardcore Fuck the Big Six mode in recent months.) [RAVEN]

#10: DEMARAI GRAY (down two from last time) – We split these up in convoluted fashion, and I take on most of the leftovers, and write them out of order entirely. Demarai Gray is the last one left on my list and I don't have much energy left for him. This is a ridiculously ambitious and often deflating undertaking, that I'm not sure more than three people read. Shit, I don't even read what Paul and Neil send me sometimes, just cut and paste it into place, format and post. Most of our digital culture is more about to pretending to do shit than actually doing shit, and all our metrics for achievement are based upon the pretend (word counts, page views) than the real. We are all fake bitches. Fuck us, and what we have become. I should be a right back for an eleventh tier U.S. soccer club in the Blue Ridge mountains, where we have two sort of pro players, and the rest of us are volunteers, and we have to borrow a church bus to travel together to away matches on Saturday afternoon. But no, we don't even have football culture like that in America, and instead I'm sitting here writing some stupid shit about English football players. WE DON'T EVEN CALL FOOTBALL "FOOTBALL" HERE. Seriously, fuck us, and not just what we have become but we always were. [RAVEN]

#11: WES MORGAN (down five from last time) – Not many prominent Premier League clubs have players with national allegiances to North American nation-states, much less have them as captain, but Wes Morgan is exactly that, as Jamaican Reggae Boyz participant for many years (not since 2016 though), and captain for the Foxes. He’s aging out of the role though, about to turn 36 next month, and though Jamaican heritage, he’s born and bred in England, specifically Nottingham. An interesting story, as a youth, he tried out for Notts County, but got rejected, so was in school and playing in the lower levels of English football for Dunkirk. He started getting noticed by non-league clubs, as well as Nottingham Forest, who ended up taking him on as an apprentice while he was still a student. Being he had no contract with Dunkirk, no transfer fee was exchanged, but Forest did give Dunkirk two kits. To this day, Dunkirk keeps Morgan’s Nottingham Forest and Leicester City kits on their clubhouse wall. That says a lot to what type of dude Morgan actually is, for a place that he briefly played as a teen to think so highly of him to this day. (Unrelated, but two magical things that are just normal shit in England but sound like Beatrix Pottter took acid and had a threesome with a West African defensive midfielder and a Scottish striker and then wrote about it – Floodlit Cup, which I guess is lower level clubs playing at night under flood lights, and Clipstone Welfare, which is a lower level club that actually exists.) [RAVEN]

#12: MARC ALBRIGHTON (down seven from last time) – I think I might have fucked up the name on this one because I was pretty sure Marc Albrighton was a World Class wrestling television champ who feuded extensively with Buddy Roberts and Iceman King Parsons. But then again, wasn't Iceman King Parsons the winger that helped Chesterfield to a shock FA Cup semifinal in 1997? Who the fuck knows. It's all just a digital opioid fog inside all our skulls now, giant sloshing mess of pretend info. [RAVEN]

#13: CAGLAR SOYUNCU – How does a club become completely hyper-paced and be able to do shit like score 8 goals in a Premier League match? Part of the equation is to get you a young Turkish defender who plays with an aggressive demeanor (common among Turkish footballers… like seriously, I love watching Super Lig matches this season; it's become one of my favorite leagues). Soyuncu got his first Premier League goal last month, against Crystal Palace, and fuck man, all these amazing international dudes Leicester has filling out key spots on their roster all seem to be 23. [RAVEN]

#14: HARVEY BARNES – Harvey Barnes sounds like a department store. Harvey's pops was a pro footballer too, who got as high as the First Division (one step below Premier League) with multiple clubs. Young Harvey became a Leicester Academy youth player at the age of 9, so he's been steeped in this club deeply. Spent time on loan the last few seasons, but was doing so well with West Brom last season he got recalled in January, and has become a steady presence ever since, even scoring his first pair of Premier League goals, including the match-winner against Sheffield United in August. [RAVEN]

#15: NAMPALYS MENDY (down two from last time) – The young Frenchman here has bounced back and forth between his homeland where he plays for Nice and in England where he plays for Leicester. That’s kind of a weird arrangement, but what the hell, if it works for everyone involved, it works. But at a certain point this dude has to make a decision. Leicester seems to have cooled on him so maybe that decision has already been made for him. I don’t know. But what I do know is that he is just sort of drifting right now, only sneaking on to the pitch once this season as a reserve. Brendan Rodgers doesn’t seem to have any use for him and yes, my sources are telling me that he won’t be offered a new contract once this one peters out, which I imagine means he will be all dolled up for Nice once again. It’s okay, though, England is filled with shitty idiots. I’m sure France is too, but not so specifically shitty as England’s shitty idiots if that makes any kind of sense. Probably not, but fuck it, the important thing to take away here is that Nampalys Mendy has left little Psychic Energies in Leicester and by the time I am done writing this they probably won’t even remember that he existed at all. [NEIL]

#16: CHRISTIAN FUCHS (down five from last time) – Obviously, the dude’s name is just hanging there to be joked upon, but I’m not gonna do it because it’s too easy and what normal people do, and I am not a normal man at all so Fuch it, goddammit I couldn’t help myself but that’s it, I promise. Anyway, the not so young Fuchs is getting into his twilight years, which in the world’s football means his early thirties because it is a young man’s game, just endless running and peak physical conditioning which starts to break down in your thirties, and I am now 40 which actually makes me the young pup of this ridiculous trio as Raven and Paul are already advanced into their forties and we’re just gonna get old together or until one of us has a tragic early exit, which has a higher than normal chance of happening given our various Poor Choices and what not, but fuck all that because we’re still alive today, at least I think so. The point is, as if there is ever a point, is that Christian Fuchs has just about spent his Psychic Energies, which he did as one of the dudes who led Leicester to their shocking league winning season a few years ago, but time comes for us all, and it seems to be coming for Christian Fuchs a little earlier than he probably wanted, but that’s okay, that just means he has the opportunity to spend his days getting high on life or other things and fucking until his dick stops working, which is when True Death occurs. [NEIL]

#17: KELECHI IHEANACHO (down five from last time) – Iheanacho is a Nigerian striker, still only 23, and working to find his widest stride. He’s a quality player at times, but obviously buried behind Vardy as a striker. Iheanacho is native Nigerian too, and I keep my twitter trends set to West Africa, so there’s a lot of love for Kelechi there. He didn’t make the jump to England until age 17, signing with Manchester City youth academy, and actually spent a while in America that first year, training with the Columbus Crew oddly. There is a lot of talk of him transferring to a lower Premier League club (both Crystal Palace and Aston Villa reportedly are interested… he’d be a great fit at Palace actually), and Brendan Rodgers is doing the “oh, no way he’s leaving, I envision a big role for him here!” which is usually telltale sign he’s going to go to Palace or Villa in January. I’d rather see him go to Palace, partially because I’d rather a Nigerian be in London than Birmingham (my curry goat factor mentioned last time we did this). But then again, he’s been in fucking Leicester for a few years, so he’s used to that Midlands lifestyle, and it might be just the spark Villa needs to finish in a solid 16th place and avoid relegation back to the Championship. [RAVEN]

#18: HAMZA CHOUDHURY (up four from last time) – Hamza exemplifies some serious contradictions. Dude was called out, rightly, for making some shitty racist-ass and sexist-ass tweets as a teenager. He’s apologized and had some sensitivity training, and he’s in his early 20s now, so maybe he’s ok on that front. I’d like to think so, or hope so, given that he’s sporting a really damn impressive Afro (puts Fellaini to shame, I think, and also I need to research what you should call that hairstyle on a person of non-African descent, but then Fellaini is quite literally of African descent, so fuck, I don’t know) and he’s a straight-up Bangladeshi Muslim, which is an underrepresented demographic in English football. As I think we’ve discussed on here, dudes with Indian subcontinent connections usually beat down the Colonial Oppressor through Cricket, which is well and good, much like Cubans and Dominicans face-palming American white boys in baseball. But because I find both cricket and baseball excruciating to watch, I of course wish that more Indian/Pakistani/Bangladeshi/Sri Lankan folk would channel their athletic inclinations into association football. Choudhury plays that defensive midfielder destroyer position, apparently well enough that he’s been called out for supposed excessive brutality (here recently, he completely wrecked Newcastle’s Ritchie to multiple required surgeries level). But Brendan Rodgers fake-smiling ass doesn’t seem completely sold on him—he was playing regularly in the early season, but has fallen to bench-riding or out of the squad altogether (which is understandable, being behind another African Wilfred Spirit Warrior in the squad). Wouldn’t be surprised if goes on loan to a bottom EPL struggler in the January window, or maybe next season. [PAUL]

#19: AYOZE PEREZ (previously #19 for Newcastle United on 01-Nov-2019) – Perez was one of Rodgers’ signings this past summer, escaping the hell that is Newcastle. He’s already netted four golazos for the Foxes. The abundance of attacking midfielder personalities Rodgers has is kinda intimidating, and that helps feed the Vardy poaching aesthetic up front. It all really does make a fun club to watch, so long as you don’t hate them. [RAVEN]

#20: DANNY SIMPSON (down ten from last time) – “Danny Simpson” sounds like the name of the worst angry racist tobacco-chewing rusty-truck building contractor padded-flannel-jacket-wearing back-home redneck that I can imagine. Like, y’all know I am sympathetic to the working class Appalachian peasantry of my nativity, but we’re talking the kind of dude that’s pretty much beyond redemption. Bad enough on the day-to-day, but then he gets on that long meth weekend that maybe let’s up for him to half-ass some roofing shit on Thursday and Friday, and he’s saying fucked up sex shit to your wife and his running loose Rottweiler has attacked your rat terrier in your own damn yard and your’re at the point where any conversation you have to have with him at the edge of your driveway means you’re gonna slip the 9mm inside the back waistband or your track pants such that the slide is pretty much resting between your ass cheeks. Or maybe not. All red-faced and white-gristley and about losing his dental plate with the half-cup of spit he uses to curl “ni**er” out of his mouth. I try to look for and celebrate the good in my people, but half the time I just want them to fucking die in their willfully ignorant white rage. But this Danny Simpson is an Anglo-Jamaican right back, albeit with some of the domestic violence proclivities of the Appalachian variant depicted above. He’s got those 100+ match milestones with both Leicester and Newcastle, while now not even certain of a game at Huddersfield in the Championship. At least he got that EPL medal though. [PAUL]

#21: DENNIS PRAET – Another Belgian, Dennis Praet was most recently seen playing in Italy before jumping ship to England and Leicester where he is just now getting his feet wet as a sometimes starter and sometimes reserve and there is little else to say about this dude other than he is a dude who plays football for Leicester where he can hopefully help them out as they try to push their way to the big table where the meats are fresh and the fruits succulent and goddamn I want some chicken and some strawberries which is how I counteract some of my Poor Choices and you know what? Instead of writing more about this dude, I am going to go eat them chickens and strawberries right now and you can’t stop me. [NEIL]

#22: RACHID GHEZZAL (down one from last time) – Our ancestral voices can often lead us wandering the Earth, searching for a home. Ghezzal is of Algerian heritage but born and lived most his life in colonial fatherland of France. He's played most his career in France, but joined Leicester before last season, and wasn't bad, but considered a bust I guess, or surplus manpower, because he was loaned out to Italian club Fiorentina for the entirety of this season. Football has been built, in a business sense, as a pyramid, in most nations as well as globally, with resources extracted and sent upwards, to our capitalist versions of colonial masters - those with the revenue to purchase whatever resources they want. For Ghezzal, that meant landing at King Power Stadium, but then being deemed not worthy enough, so cast aloft out to Italy, with an option to buy, scattered further, as the wretched of the footballing Earth. Global youth have their football dreams channeled into these pyramids, dreaming of playing on the largest European stages, no matter where on Earth they began. Frantz Fanon wrote in The Wretched of the Earth, "The stadium is not an urban showpiece but a rural space that is cleared, worked, and offered to the nation. The capitalist notion of sports is fundamentally different from that which should exist in an underdeveloped country." I think of this quote a lot with regards to players with African heritage, and in the context of the African Cup of Nations, which Algeria won this past summer (without Ghezzal). The tournament was usually played in January-February, despite the objection of the colonial/capital masters in prominent leagues who didn't want the players they'd purchased to leave during the season like that. But for most of these African nations, it's one of the few times they get to see all their top stars of African descent, most of whom have been physically extracted, by contract or immigration in previous generations, play on African soil. Ultimately, like all pyramid scams, the current global system of capital will fail. One of the reasons football metaphysics is so much deeper than metaphysics applied to other sports is football has existed in many spaces beyond multiple ruling governments, so that the football club is an institution older than most others easily seen. I think about that shit all the time when a guy like Ghezzal comes up on these lists, Algerian by way of France, briefly in the English midlands and already bounced off to Italy, a physical resource extracted and traded between nations, hoping to find the most value of self he can. Life is still pretty brutal for much of humanity, even those of us deemed successes, especially since that success metric is usually financial worth, which is empty of actual connection to land as a space to survive and thrive, but an abstraction which is supposed to purchase that connection to land. And we all know that doesn't happen very often. The pyramid scam has consumed us all, and we just keep consuming in return, mimicking our colonial master's teachings, hoping we end up at the top, clawing at those above us, stepping on the existences of those below us, completely caught up in the anxiety of human existence. [RAVEN]

#23: RIYAD MAHREZ (down fourteen from last time; also previously ranked #13 for Manchester City on 15-Oct-2019) – Algerian winger dude that Leicester rode to that 2016 title, who then figured out “fuck, I’m in Leicester” and basically clawed at the walls to get out of there, eventually getting that sweet paycheck move to Manchester City. As an American, I know fuck-all about Leicester the city. I’ve travelled to, and even kind of halfway resided in, the UK for both slacking and schooling, but such is my contempt for England that I’ve actually only spent maybe 48 total hours under the cross of St. George (and probably not even that if there had been cheaper flights directly into/out of Scotland and Wales). But….it’s my middle fucking name, though of course without that fancy “ice” in the middle. And it’s a longstanding family name, such that I think I’m like the fourth or fifth generation first born middle name “Lester.” This makes me wonder if there’s not some long ago familial branch connection to that place, but more likely it was probably the name of some local judge, doctor, Confederate colonel, or politician or other 19th century Appalachian elite dickhead that my family pledged fealty to by dumping his bullshit name on their eighth kid. And I bet that motherfucker’s family emigrated to the colonies from Leicester. Anyway, a silky smooth lanky Algerian winger I would normally like, but he plays for Manchester City, so a tepid “fuck him” until they lose out on two EPL titles in a row and he maybe rumbles for a move to Barcelona or Roma. [PAUL]

#24: VICENTE IBORRA (down eight from last time) – Spanish defensive midfielder that pulled one and half-seasons with Leicester before straight up saying “fuck this English shit” and moved back to Spain with Villarreal and their fly-as-fvkk banana-ass kits. I could try to say a lot more about this dude—seems like one of those solid central midfield workers that just keeps everything ticking along. But really, essentially declaring “I’m already rich as fuck, what the hell does it profit my soul to get richer playing in this rainy cold shithole and surrounded by assholes like that Vardy guy?” is all I need to know to appreciate the dude. I hope you do to. [PAUL]

#25: DANIEL AMARTEY (down seven from last time) – Ghanian defensive midfielder, so on those grounds automatically loved on by the trio banging out the bullshit you’re currently reading. He’s done at Leicester, with them not really needing any more cover at that position as he works his way back from a season long serious injury absence. Seems the aforementioned Michael O’Neill is sniffing around him to try and salvage Stoke this season. But Turkey is also beckoning. Hopefully he makes the right choice. The only choice, really. [PAUL]

Sunday, December 15

Saturday, December 14

SONG OF THE DAY: Racism 2.0

This past Sunday I had to drive my eldest and their friend to DC to fly to Asia. There is a long stretch of United States highway 15 – the same highway I grew up along mostly – that once you get past the Wal-Mart Supercenter and distribution zone by the interstate, and the couple of subdivisions sprawling from said interstate’s diamond exchange with 15, it turns to dilapidated farmland along the Blue Ridge foothills, and is straight as fuck, so you are tempted to go a thousand miles an hour but you also know police lurk like copperheads in the bushes, waiting to strike and inject poisonous revenue tendrils into your already depleted financial body. As I was fighting the urge to go a thousand miles an hour, and had withdrawn $350 from an ATM which had been transferred by my ex-in-principle-but-still-legal-wife from her paypal to a bank account we still shared, so that I could leave an envelope full of cash on the kitchen counter for the wood guy next week, we saw a bald eagle at same level as the car, dragging the entrails of a recently hit deer along for a meal. I thought to myself, as my now adult child prepared to get a passport stamped in southeast Asia again, “wow, that’s like, a metaphor or some shit.” And then I kept driving along, as doomed as ever.

C4RN1V4L R1D3S M4D3 T0 L00K...

carnival rides made to look
like spaceships, because people
want to escape life of dread

Friday, December 13


anxiously awaiting spring's
metaphysical rebirth
(all due respect to winter)


Every wack fuckin’ rapper on Earth now has a song named after some shitty fuckin’ wrestler. Used to be you could make a list of wrestling references in hip hop and be excited, but fuck man, it’s like a PWI 500 of shitty ass songs that are just trash verses but then somebody samples one line of Curt Henning from youtube so they call it Mr. Perfect and think that’s clever. Everybody’s so fuckin’ tired creatively. Y’all fuckin’ suck. Try harder with your wack asses.
Nonetheless I enjoy Westside Gunn, even though he’s beat this wrestling reference horse to fuckin’ death. Wish ECW was actually still around, and actually not a sub-entity of WWE, so that like Westside Gunn could show up with the Gangstas to battle whatever little flip-floppy white asshole tag team y’all pretend are super amazing in a double barbed wire cage match in the ECW Arena. If rap is too corny and derivative, wrestling is too fake woke, ignoring the fact that pro wrestling’s bread and butter demographic is proudly and fiercely ignorant folk, not the woke. Way more people sitting in a Trump rally than a hipster coffee shop next to the comic book store. Internet communities have falsely made us think we don’t have to exist in the regular world, which is still a giant piece of shit. You can’t walk through a day IRL without stepping in the shit. Online makes you think a better world could exist. You overlook the fact humans are fucking stupid.

W4ND3R1NG 4M3R1C4N...

wandering American
landscape, attempting to find
a place that doesn't feel cramped

Thursday, December 12

Wednesday, December 11


don't really know what the fuck
I'm doing, to be honest;
just making random shit up

SONG OF THE DAY: Chains 4 Crowns

In old studio wrestling, the role of the jobber was them dudes who always lost, week in and week out. You had the glorified jobber, who was usually the guy who seemed like he might be a star one day, minimally so, and he usually had the main event television loss to an actual star, but most of the jobbers were just jobbers. The true jobbers didn’t even have the look – you knew there was little star potential in that body, just a malformed ungraceful blob of an existence that was born to lose, even long after actual competitive meritocracies were all replaced by theatrical oligarchies who dedicated resources to engaging still in the performative acts of pretending shit was real. True jobbers.
I appreciate the fact people love to hold up kings and queens and these high cultural watermarks of greatness for all of us to look back on and identify. This is especially important for oppressed people, who in the larger culture are rarely allowed to see themselves in a successful light. In order to keep people from feeling hopelessly destitute in their humane existence, they need to feel like they can have something to attain in life.
And yet, in every human culture from the beginning of time, there’s many many true jobbers, and few true kings or queens. Too many true jobbers, doomed in America, doomed in Europe, doomed in Africa, doomed in all corners of the Earth whenever pyramid scams have been erected where some are seen as greater than the rest. I’m very thankful for the class transition I’ve made in life – I was born a true jobber, and now I feel like I’ve attained glorified jobber status. I look like I could be a minimal star, there’s the tease of actual success always present, but I come out losing most every week, taking the loss, but doing so against even better and higher positioned talent. It took a lot of work to not be a straight up true jobber, lot of luck too, and I got to use the bias of the culture against itself too, because you clean me up, put a decent shirt on me, I look like their preferred style of star to an extent. They don’t realize I’m a piece of shit as easily as they would someone with a different skin tone. But I don’t pretend that I’m not still a jobber, and ain’t ever gonna hold a meaningful title while wrestling with meaning in this performative American life where we pretend it’s still real. Nothing is real anymore.


the markings of a dumbass,
not really beast-like because far
too damned domesticated

Friday, December 6

SONG OF THE DAY: I'm a King Bee

It’s weird that blues music got watered down by old white dudes, because good blues music is straight up a soundtrack for fucking, and nothing about old white dudes with goatees and funny hats is sexy at all. In fact, that’s my litmus test for blues music. Does it have a good fucking rhythm, and make you wanna fuck? Then it’s good blues music. And let’s be honest, most of life’s blues come from fucking, either accidentally fucking the wrong person, or not being able to fuck the right person. Sometimes you double down on the poor choices and end up in a situation where you can’t even fuck the wrong person, but you really want to anyways, and that’s when the high quality full life blues kick in.
This made me wonder the etymology of “blues” and a rapid internet search told me it perhaps stems from a 17th century English expression for “the blue devils” one sees during severe alcohol withdrawal. But like all of the most wonderful things, there’s no real known beginning of what “the blues” means, nor really when blues music started. Shit just kinda came together, like cultural gumbo, and then it existed bigger than anybody realized, and now it ain’t going away, because once obsessive old white dudes get ahold of something, it’s stuck in for good. I refuse to believe the true etymology of “the blues” doesn’t have to do with fucking, or lack thereof though.

Wednesday, December 4

SONG OF THE DAY: The Way We Used to Beg

An old roommate of mine's, who plays the guitar. I once watched him and my other roommate get in a fight over the last piece of bread. Also my bedroom was literally a closet. We are all thankful social media didn't exist back then because that place was fucked. Anyways, Matt still does the music, classic singer-songwriter stylings, but he's not wealthy or connected to wealthy, or touring the hipster diner circuit. So he just shit, obscurely, in an attempt to make the constant train wrecks feel better.

Monday, December 2

25-Man Metaphysical Roster: CRYSTAL PALACE FC

{"When the seagulls follow the trawler, it's because they think sardines will be thrown into the sea."} 

[25-Man Metaphysical Roster is a football metaphysics methodology utilizing dork methodology of minutes played over the past 100 club competitive club matches to determine which 25 players constitute the strongest psychic force on a club’s current trajectory. Then intuitive analysis is conducted utilizing football metaphysics, performed from an un-American soccer fan’s perspective. We do this every 1st and 15th of the month, cycling through the 20 clubs currently in the English Premier League, because it is the top domestic league based in an English-speaking country, which as un-American miscreants, we were all born to be saddled with this limited, segmented tongue of the global colonizer, oppressor, and capitalizer. Also, it is what comes on TV here in the USA most prominently, where we live. And yet, it is really important we clarify we hate English, and also America. Maybe we hate ourselves. Our panel consists of chairman Raven Mack, director tecnico Paul Robertson, and director rudo Neil Bulson Our individual contributions to this 5000 words of gibberish will be noted by our name at the end of the blurb. If you enjoy this absolutely free internet content from an un-American soccer perspective, VENMO US FOR OUR METAPHYSICAL LABOR @ravenmack23.]

Let us discuss the footballing metaphysics of this Crystal Palace football club, of London history, yet not as renowned as other clubs within the greater London area. Obviously, Chelsea and Arsenal and Tottenham come to mind first, as half of the Premier League’s Big Six, which all exist in London proper. But even beyond that, West Ham United has a stronger history, with three FA Cup titles. In fact, Charlton Athletic has also won an FA Cup, as have defunct London clubs Wimbledon FC, the Clapham Rovers, and Wanderers FC (five FA Cups!). Queens Park Rangers have a League Cup trophy in their cabinet. Even Fulham has had more seasons in the Premier League since its inception. It might even be argued that fellow south London club Millwall has a stronger following, who have at least introduced hooligan weaponry into the public consciousness. Thus Crystal Palace, despite an earlier version of this club being a founding member of the English FA, is the lost club of high level London football in a sense. Which is sad, having taken the name of the Crystal Palace exhibition center, which to an American, sounds absolutely magical. The blue and red stripes are actually quite dull to see on their kits because, as a person who has often gotten lost in headphone lands with a bloodstream screwed and chopped by painkillers, listening to stoner doom metal, a Crystal Palace conjures up images of wizards and silken robes and evil dwarf demigod sprites who have attempted to curse the club, which now that I think about it, how do I know that’s not the case? Like, if there’s time traveling dwarf people who have gone astray under the leadership of a demigod have decimated the club at a metaphysical level throughout time, and because I’m a three dimensional creature who can’t comprehend space-time continuum shifts like that, I just see Palace as this not-quite-great-like-the-others London clubs. Where does Roy Hodgson fit into this, as the ancient elder of English football, controlling the current reins of this club, now in their seventh season of Premier League action, by far their longest spell in the top flight? Is he their savior from the evil curse? I am not sure, but let us explore this club nonetheless, through our analysis of the 25 dudes who have occupied the most minutes on the pitch for them the past 100 club matches which are not friendly exhibitions but actual blood contests working towards trophy. [RAVEN]

#1: LUKA MILIVOJEVIC (up one from last time Crystal Palace were metaphysically ranked on 01-Jan-2019; also his FIRST METAPHYSICAL STAR) – Team capitan, and noted Serb, and the current Metaphysical Star of this club, though as you will see in these write-ups, there’s a large number of metaphysical stars scattered through this club. For one, Crystal Palace is the first club to go through these deductions four times over the course of me doing this secretly in a 20 foot camper in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. But also, Palace seems to be stocked with the feature remnants of other clubs that live on the cusp as they do. Milivojevic is not one of those though, as his entire time in England has been for Palace, though he did have brief stints at the top clubs of his native Serbia, Belgium, and then three seasons in Greece before coming here. The former Yugoslavia has a strong footballing tradition, and the Serbs seem to have taken that mantle the most since the ethnic separation of the 1990s. Milivojevic has run up his goal tallies by being their go-to penalty taker, even though he’d never done that before coming to England. Travel unlocks new passions in all of us. [RAVEN]

#2: PATRICK VAN AANHOLT (up three from last time; also previously ONE METAPHYSICAL STAR with Sunderland) – The left back here is a Dutchman with his roots in Curacao which is one of those little island countries that no one is quite sure where it is, but Curacao is actually just a stone’s throw from Venezuela and that means he’s got some Amerindian blood pumping through those veins somewhere, but thanks to Colonial oppressions, he is Dutch no matter which way you slice it since Curacao was held as a colony by the Dutch so it’s like they were tracking this kid through space and time, which is some next level nefarious colonialism but fuck it, it got Patrick Van Aanholt a first world upbringing with all its plusses and minuses which basically just means you get better Wi-Fi but also get your soul stripped in the process. Leave the Curacao folk to their own and sure they won’t have any fast internet or anything like that but they will also be able to lounge on the beach all day and fuck their women at night. I mean, we’re all trapped by our first world “needs” because we are a colonized people, real people don’t need all that shit because they can just grow fruit and fuck on the beach and everyone’s happy. Your fat ass is slothing on the couch, surrounded by processed foods that are running game on your body because your forefathers were tamed and made useless and helpless. Anyway, none of this has anything to do with Patrick Van Aanholt whose wild roots are just a faded memory, and they don’t have anything to do with his footballing, which has been almost exclusively on the English tip, starting with Chelsea who turned him out because not everybody is meant to be a top tier dude. And that is how he has come to Crystal Palace, not good enough for the big clubs and not rooted enough in his Curacaon ways. That is a tragic place to find your psychic energies, but just maybe if he closes his eyes and lets himself go he can feel himself fucking one of those island girls on the beach and maybe just maybe that can spark a little Sprit Warrior fire, but probably not because this dude has been Euronised thoroughly, first by being a Dutchman and second by playing his big boy football in fuckin’ England. [NEIL]

#3: WILFRED ZAHA (same as last time; also previously ONE METAPHYSICAL STAR for Palace) – Zaha is doing right on multiple football metaphysical points. First, a rejection of the English national team for the country of his birth, Cote d'Ivoire. And not just the rejection itself, but the manner of it: repping England throughout the youth setup (thereby taking advantage of the no doubt superior training and development opportunities) and especially consternating Roy Hodgson’s old white-ass who was managing England at the time. Seems Zaha don’t exactly get on with any of these old British manager fucksticks, as he criticized David Moyes for not giving him a chance at Manchester United (which was probably for the best anyway). If I’m sick and tired of anything in the world of football, it’s British football managers. I know that y’all have had to read my screeds against British (especially English) players, but now that I consider it, British managers are infinitely worse and probably more to blame for the sheer ugliness of the EPL than any other element (outside certain supporter bases, maybe). Unimaginative, unmotivating, coasting on past glories and facades of greatness that fall to shit once they have to compete with the rest of the world (aka, “The Great Anglo Lament”). These dudes offer nothing. I suppose it’s why I’ll continue backing Klopp so hard with Liverpool because he is the full-on antidote to that, along with the Santo and Fake dudes (and man, I bet Paul Mooney could do a good bit about English manager anxiety over Aliou Cisse). It’s why even if Stevie G hadn’t pitched up at Rangers, I’d still want him to fall flat on his stupid-looking English schoolboy bully face, even if it was with Blackpool or West Brom. Brendan Rodgers, while ostensibly Irish, is not the antidote—listen to him talk, that’s a calculating colonialist British motherfucker right there, nothing more, nothing less. [That is NOT sour grapes, it used to give me pause even when he was Celtic manager and I was loving him hard, despite a nagging voice in the back of my head that was as correct as it always is.] So Zaha is doing well, seems like he’s well-established as a Crystal Palace semi-legend, although I see Arsenal desperately sniffing around (and lolol, oh man, Freddie-fucking-Lungingberg). I hope he stays because Palace seem to be putting together a decent squad that could maybe put them on that solid Wolves/Sheffield United mid-table footing that sees them make a play for occasional European football, though I’d think the aforementioned Hodgson needs to make way for some Argentinian or Portuguese or Irish dude to really make it happen. Finally, I am also stoked to see so many African football players with the name “Wilifried” (which admittedly confuses me a bit, because most of them are Francophone, and that name is German-as-fuck, like more Namibia or Tanzania) because nothing seems like a bigger, better double deep middle finger to Richard Wagner’s Europa Aryan vision than a bunch of African dudes wrecking football and domiciling on the continent. Damn, looking at a picture of Wagner, if you Photoshopped in a contemporary sweater-suit combo and colorized it he’d look just like an English football manager. [PAUL]

#4: JAMES MCARTHUR (up two from last time) – Decent enough Scottish midfielder, despite Hun origins. He gets props for coming through one of the shittier teams in Scottish football, Hamilton Academical, which somehow manages to just barely stay in the Scottish Premier League season after season. McArthur’s another footballing archetype I suppose—the Scottish central midfielder, a run-and-harry type that chips in a few goals here and there, gets a move to the middling EPL at the cusp of his career peak, is solid enough without being spectacular, suffers consistently as a first-team pick in the national squad, maybe bounces around a few clubs up and down the English footballing ladder, then pitches up for two final mid-30s years at Rangers to again play sort of ok in all matches not European and not against Celtic, but more just drain financial resources from that bloated blue edifice of debt and bigotry and then, I don’t know, maybe retire to some condominium on Loch Lomond. I’ll be honest, it’s hard to write about these Scottish players in England and not become wholly depressed by the state of Scottish football. [PAUL]

#5: ANDROS TOWNSEND (down four from last time; also previously ONE METAPHYSICAL STAR) – Andros Townsend is another one of those caramel colored dudes who get the pink men all uptight and angry, which means he is a beautiful dude, as all mixed race dudes and lady dudes are while our skin sizzles in the faintest of suns, shameful and ridiculous like porcelain dolls or some shit. Anyway, Andros Townsend has played as a winger for English clubs all his life because he is English born, which isn’t necessarily a thing to be ashamed of, especially because he probably made the ugly milk white fuckers uneasy as he was growing up. But that is also no fun for a kid just trying to get by in the world and who doesn’t need to get fucked with by racists and shitheads, and I am not a racist nor a shithead, but I play loose with language and maybe am kinda too problematic, but that’s just me, I don’t mean no harm by it or anything. But anyway, shit, yeah, so Andros Townsend is a decent enough winger and a real asset to the Crystal Palace lineup, maybe a dude who would be a touch over his head with a bigger club, which is kind of what he ran into at Tottenham, but he’s found a good level and a place in the world, and that is more than most of us can say. Just that nice sweet spot you can lounge from, get comfortable and end up dropping some kids, blending the humanity all the more with each load shot up in there and it’s all good, baby, it’s all good. [NEIL]

#6: JAMES TOMKINS (up one from last time) – Tomkins spent 20 years as a West Ham player, from his youth up until 2016, when he moved to Palace. Still though, that’s his entire soccer career in London, outside of a brief loan spell to Derby County over a decade ago. [RAVEN]

#7: VICENTE GUAITA (up seventeen from last time) – Guaita arrived July of 2018 on a free transfer, having aged and injured himself out of prominence in his native Spain. His club there, Getafe, began using him sparingly, though he did mind the posts in their playoff promotion back to La Liga. He came to Palace as cover for Wayne Hennessey, but Hodgson wasn’t getting the consistency he wanted, so Guaita sort of took over the role, and has done well enough that he mostly hasn’t given it back up, sort of by default, as can happen with goalkeepers, which is a very superstitious and highly metaphysical position that you can’t really put too hard a science too without fucking it up. [RAVEN]

#8: CHEIKHOU KOUYATE (up seven from last time; also previously ranked #15 for West Ham United on 01-Mar-2019, as well as ONE METAPHYSICAL STAR while a Hammer) – I do a lot of metaphysical studies by playing Football Manager, and I can tell you a key ingredient for psychic success is an African-minded defensive midfielder. It is not accident that Kouyate was a long-term presence on every club he’s played for professionally. His first one, in Brussels, caused the young man to split because they didn’t pay him for a few months, but he landed in Anderlecht, where he was a huge presence for them for six seasons. That led to a transfer to the Premier League, where he was the Metaphysical Star at one point for West Ham. He moved to Palace before last season, and gives them a youthful veteran presence, if that makes sense, because despite having both those long stints at other clubs, and currently into his second season with Palace, he’s still only 29 years old. He’s also been a constant presence on the Senegalese national team for the past six years as well, including the squad which of course famously came up short this past summer in the African Cup of Nations final against Algeria. [RAVEN]

#9: AARON WAN-BISSAKA (same as last time) – I like writing about the non-pink dudes like Aaron Wan-Bissaka here, who is English by birth, but Congolese by blood, and he apparently tried to play for the Congo in his youth days but he eventually dropped them for his colonialist oppressors who introduced him to the Protestant work ethic and faster WiFi.  He is a right back of considerable quality and could have been a lynchpin in the Crystal Palace defense for years to come but alas he was sold on to the dreaded Manchester United who will rob him of his soul and leave him questioning his very humanity. If I were Aaron Wan-Bissaka, I would roll down to the Congo and live like a king, bathing in the river with the hippopotami and fucking the girls with the fat asses who hopefully haven’t been caught up in Big AIDS, which is a nasty way to go, and I apologize if I am getting problematic again, but this is just where the words take me, I cannot help it.  I just want him to have a nice quiet life free from all the shitty first world problems that we have chained ourselves to. Life doesn’t have to be so complicated. Just find a good woman and find a way to eat and that’s it, you’ve won life. Fuck all the rest of this shit. [NEIL]

#10: JEFFREY SCHLUPP (same as last time) – So I got that stupid fucking Disney+ shit the other week, like all the other marks in the American Universe, but it made me get one of those Roku devices to be streaming my shit, which I had never bothered to do, not because I was against it but I don't watch a whole lot of TV other than soccer. I'd had a Sling Latino Sports package for a while now, but just watched that shit on my laptop. But after I hooked up the Roku, now I got it streaming direct to the TV, which obviously as anyone other than my lethargic luddite ass knows, looks pretty damn good. Anyways, what this means is watching all the fuckin' African continental club action I can on the higher Bein Sports channels, which is my favorite shit to be honest. African football stadium ambiance is the shit. I was watching an Egyptian club (I think) at a Cameroon club Saturday, and shit was pretty damn lit. I kept thinking, "maybe I watch the Premier League match" but I couldn't bear to do it. Anyways, when I saw the name Jeffrey Schlupp, I assumed it was like a German dude or some shit, but it turned out he's a Ghanaian Black Star (who was born in Germany), and whose spent the past six seasons in Premier League, with Palace and Leicester, and then the three before that with Leicester in the Championship. He came up through Leicester's youth system, having grown up in England, and man, I'mma tell you my philosophy on cross-cultural pollination because it's pretty simple. Curry goat. Have cultures combined and morphed together enough you have curry goat where you live? Do you have multiple choices for curry goat? Like maybe East Indian curry goat as well as West Indian curry goat? Because that's my simple criteria. "Is this place got good cultural mix, Raven Mack?" DO THEY GOT FUCKIN CURRY GOAT? IF NO, THEN FUCK THAT PLACE. Where I live, there's no goddamned curry goat, which means the melting pot ain't been melted nearly enough, and we need to stir the pot some more or some shit. I imagine a dude living in London has no problem getting some good West African goat dishes, with or without curry. I also love the fact that culturally, even within football, if a dude is "fullback/winger" you know he's African or Ecuadorian or from some place where it's perfectly normal to have a guy who flies up and down the entire side of the pitch, from deep defense to blatant striking offense. Sometimes I'm bummed there's only two sidelines to a football pitch because I'd like to play three dudes like that all at once. Maybe it's time to drink some mushroom tea again and tinker with my fourth dimensional football pyramids, which are going way beyond simple inversion. [RAVEN]

#11: MARTIN KELLY (up two from last time) – Martin Kelly's big ass gelled hair self is about as English defender as a motherfucker could possibly look, so of course he plays for Crystal Palace. You couldn't incubate a better stereotype in a spaceship. But then again if those science fiction dystopian movies of yore that had spaceships full of secret overlords breeding humans for some sort of spectacle or horrible demise, would they be incubating stereotypical Englishman defenders of the football? Hahaha, fuck yeah they would, because you know space peoples still got space drugs, and somebody on one of them is spaceships started a little secret human football league, like we play video games, and some alien reptoid named Borkle77 or Dark Ampersand is building a team entirely of conventionally attractive but actually kinda ugly English dudes to roll out. Too bad his opponent this week secretly incubated Italian footballers with luchadors and also has a secret project where his GKs are injected with bull frog DNA in their leg muscles for bigger jump. Tough luck Dark Ampersand. [RAVEN]

#12: MAMADO SAKHO (down four from last time) – I really liked Sakho when he was at Liverpool where he tried his best to fix the Reds center back area only to come up frustrated by not getting to play alongside Virgil Van Dijk which is no fault of his own. Sadly, Mamadou couldn’t make it work in Liverpool and has moved on to being a steady presence for Crystal Palace. He rolls with the French national team, which I can’t damn him for since that is the place of his birth although his parents rep Senegal. Better lives and all that juxtaposed with all the bullshit I’ve been writing about the simpler life in this here metaphysical breakdown in which all tendrils touch and then fly off in their own wild places.  But anyway, Sakho actually spent the bulk of his early career with PSG, which is some real running with the wolves kind of life, which set him up for his Liverpool days, which is a similar big baller brand, but now Sakho has found himself with Crystal Palace, where he can wind down his football days keeping a middling club in business, doing okay for himself and his club, which is some cozy psychic energy to bring and I hope he has the best life from here on out, you don’t owe anyone anything Mamadou Sakho, just fuck right and whisper to the stars at night and you’ll be alright. [NEIL]

#13: JOEL WARD (up one from last time; also previously ONE METAPHYSICAL STAR for Palace) – Joel Ward was a Houston rapper with associations to both Rap-A-Lot Records as well as DJ Screw's Screwed Up Click. He actually released three albums on Rap-A-Lot, all the way back to their early days, before dying in a car crash on the interstate in the summer of 2002. No wait, that's Big Mello. Joel Ward's a defender who's been on Palace for like seven years now, since they were in the Championship, and doesn't play as much the past few seasons but has been getting plenty of playing time this season thus far. Not sure how much codeine cough syrup he's been getting, or shout outs on new Paul Wall tracks. [RAVEN]

#14: JORDAN AYEW (up seven from last time) – When Jordan Ayew first came to my beloved Swansea City, my immediate impression was one of lack of excitement, as this appeared to be the lesser Ayew brother. Also, there was the vague hint of Ghanaian witchcraft having cursed the young man, with like three clubs in a row he played for getting relegated, him being a spirit right on the cusp. And in retrospect, yes, Swansea was relegated as well, though I think maybe Jordan got shipped away first? I can’t rightly remember at this point, it’s such a blur of failure demons and shitty American influences. Nonetheless, my lasting impression of Jordan Ayew is a highly positive one, of him being a constant worrisome gnat of a footballer who harasses to a ridiculous level, and always somehow seems to find a way to scrap in some sort of haphazard goal. He is full on cusp spirit, so being on a club like Palace is perfect, and I began to wonder as time went on if the thoughts of him being a curse were misplaced, and actually a cusp team who had three or four bold cusp characters like him who can operate on that raggedy edge with passionate fuck it, then they might be better off. There were periods for the Swans where Jordan was literally the only one who still seemed to be trying, in his own weird stop-go way. I now love him immensely, and take great joy in seeing his fucked up little west African scrunch face out there grimacing through another worrisome and harassing 84 minutes. [RAVEN]

#15: WAYNE HENNESSEY (down eleven from last time) – Giant Welsh keeper named after French hooch that sounds Irish, who apparently failed every European history class in whatever British secondary school structure an aspiring professional football player finds himself. Really though, I don’t know why a 30 year-old Welsh dude with distant Irish origins playing for Crystal Palace would be making a Nazi salute—seems that even for a meathead football (which goalkeepers are usually NOT—they’re the damn professoriate of the footballing world, maybe making our boy here a bit of an archetype exception) that’s well past the edgelord phase. But he’s from north Wales, which maybe has more rightist-leanings than red-flag-as-fuck south Wales. Seriously, I did an internship in rural Wales a couple of decades ago, and while most people were chill as fuck, there was a distinct lack of melanin about, and some people did indeed say some hella fucked up racist shit—like so obviously fucking racist, but in an absurdist way that didn’t even make sense to my steeped-in-perpetual-background-racism American ass (such as a north Wales dude that invited me into his rural house, while adamantly and repeatedly declaring that there was “no Black blood” in his family—it was fucked up because I was like “are you saying that because I’m a drawling southern-American dude and you’re trying to elbow-nudge curry favor with me?....or are you saying that because I’m an olive-hued, black-haired drawling southern-American dude and you are implying that Americans are a bunch of mongrel racially suspect people?” Me and my friend I was with really regretted not kicking his ass and stealing some of the antique shit he was so proud of.  Wayne here seems like he’s done at Palace, in place of a new Spanish keeper. 32 should be the prime peak of a goalkeeper, so no clue where he heads from here. Milwall might be a good fit. [PAUL]

#16: MAX MEYER (same as last time) – Don’t really think much of German midfielders, especially those not of Turkish backgrounds. Played for Schalke enough to form a permanent association—this happens after 100 appearances for a club, anything less than that is just passing through. Though I guess he kind of fucked them by moving to the EPL on a free transfer. He looks like he could be an actor in these short World War II-themed short, studenty-looking films that youtube keeps suggesting to me. Seems like they’re obsessed with the common German soldier experience in the waning, collapsing days of the war. Because I am culture studies geek, I have gotten sucked into trying to discern what the point of these plot-interchangeable videos—some kind of right-wing apologia? an attempt to cast the events as individual tragedies? a deflection of blame onto the heavy duty Nazis that “got them into the whole mess”? I mean, it is a legitimate question of how you deal with an ancestor—recent or a ways back, that was a supporter, to whatever degree, of a vile political project. By the international legal definition, I’m pretty sure my own dad is a war criminal. And I’ve got multiple Confederate-veteran antecedents (who were rank-and-file dumbass peckerwoods with evidence of less-than-perfect commitment to the cause, but then that right here is the fucked up attempts at justification, deflection, and revisionism I’m talking about and I guess a lot of white German people have to fight that same shit; but then, as we reiterate over and over on here, we as white Americans (north, south, east, and west) are all absolute scum when it comes to collective guilt. Do these thoughts flash through Meyer’s mind? How do white European footballers decolonize themselves? [PAUL]

#17: CHRISTIAN BENTEKE (down six from last time) – I have always been fascinated by Benteke’s somewhat bulbous forehead. He is Congolese, born in Kinshasa, though spent most of his childhood in Belgium (as did many who fled dangerous situations in the DR Congo). It is a strange thing, the path of Africans to their former colonial masters as an escape from the chaos of an unstable homeland. It’s sort of the obligation of being a colonial lord at one point. It’s weird though because in America, the wealth was not built on extracting it from a foreign space, but by building it here off the imported slave labor from those places, most of which existed before our current geopolitical borders were drawn (which were remnants of colonialism anyways), so there’s no way to easily solve the issue. And of course none of this has anything to do with Christian Benteke, other than his first name being a symptomatic result of colonialism as well. [RAVEN]

#18: SCOTT DANN (up two from last time) – Scott Dann has the same birthday as me - Valentines Day, which means he's an Aquarius, and being born on the day of love, is bound to have folks love him after minimal physical contact, and also needs a lot of Plan B. No wonder he's a defender naturally, because you're already on the defense against your universal magnetism, as a Valentines Aquarian. He's metaphysically built by birth for that role, and fuck I'm pretty surprised I've never thought about studying natal charts for part of this metaphysical analysis before. He was born in Liverpool though, which is not nearly as glorious as my birth in Farmville, Virginia, USA, where the stakes are high, and so was my teen mom. [RAVEN]

#19: GARY CAHILL (previously ranked #23 for Chelsea on 15-Aug-2019) – Forever affiliated with Chelsea, here we have yet another white English dude central defender. Beloved of the English national team setup and twin pillar of Britannia alongside John-fucking-Terry. Really at a loss for what to say about these types of dudes that I haven’t already said before. I rejoice when an African forward turns them inside out and plants an unstoppable shot in at the near post. I rejoice when they collapse into impotent, petulant rages when some wispy brown South American winger leaves them for dead, forcing them into a stupid grappling foul for which they justly concede a penalty and acquire a card. I rejoice when their Chardonnay diamond-encrusted Beverly Hills plastic surgeon 38DDD tabloid botox-lipped bangs-arranged constantly by fake nail wife takes their four kids and faux Tudor castle in the divorce settlement, hopefully taking up a Columbian fullback on a ridiculously fat contract that the kids almost immediately start calling “Daddy.” Too stupid for management, too ugly for commentary. Human detritus of British Empire, rotting into the sands like a Brighton pier. [PAUL]

#20: MICHY BATSHUAYI (previously ranked #20 for Chelsea on 01-Aug-2018) – Another DR Congolese heritage player, and a guy who was touted as the future for Chelsea for a while, although all it resulted in was a “Where’s Michy loaned this year?” game to play. That meant half a season loan to Palace the first half of this calendar year, and with the transfer freeze, it seemed like this was his year to finally step up at Chelsea and take that central role he was allegedly destined for. Except Tammy Abraham took it first, and only now with Abraham having an injury does Batshuayi get a chance to try to be the man. If it fails, which I guess it will, he’ll likely get loaned out again in January, although the steady decline in loan prestige for him (Borussia Dortmund two seasons ago, then Valencia, and then Palace this past January), he’s getting to the point you just cash him out on a transfer to like West Ham, or maybe Palace takes him back. He did get 6 goals in 13 appearances for them. [RAVEN]

#21: YOHAN CABAYE (down nine from last time) – French midfielder who went to Dubai to play before last season, getting that Gulf Sheikh money. It didn’t last long though, as he left the club in January, with his contract terminated, and then returned to France officially before this season. [RAVEN]

#22: RUBEN LOFTUS-CREEK (down six from last time) – Loftus-Creek holds onto the list even though he was never more than a season-long loan from Chelsea. Pretty weird how more than one dude on the Crystal Palace 25-Man is just long-term loan from Chelsea, as well as dudes who played forever for West Ham. Crystal Palace really is the lesser destination for London football, quite literally. How do you change that shit? I guess having a Roy Hodgson is supposed to make that move, somehow, but he’s old as fuck too. It’s like a mix-and-match best of famous names from other times or spaces that aren’t quite what they might appear to be club. [RAVEN]

#23: ALEXANDER SORLOTH (down one from last time) – Yeah, fuck whatever this dude does for Palace or any other English club—he’s a gigantic, goofy Norwegian Viking-ass striker tearing it up in the Turkish League on-loan. I sincerely hope he’s listening to nothing but Royksopp (and related deranged Scandinavian techno) while having loads of sex with the windows wide open onto the balcony of his Black Sea high-rise. Never come back to England, young man—stay a Varangian warrior in the land of spice and warmth. Maybe get a permanent move to Marseille or Valencia. [PAUL]

#24: JAIRO RIEDEWALD (up one from last time) – Another one of the caramel colored young folks who will claim the world as their own as the pink people crawl into their graves, Jairo Riedewald is another good Dutchman whose background is like 1/3 Dutch, 1/3 Surinamese and 1/3 Indonesian, which means that he probably fucks good and is very attractive to your girlfriend. Ol’ Jairo here came up in the Ajax system, which is fairly elite by Dutch standards before joining Crystal Palace where he hasn’t really done much of anything. I don’t think he’s even played since the 2017/2018 campaign which means he is just stashed away there. I see he put in an appearance in a League Cup match, but that’s about it for the past couple of years. I don’t know whether this is an ominous sign for Jairo spelling a life in lower leagues or whether he is just amassing some serious fuck energy, which is all a young dude in the prime of his life can do, earning a nice wage for practicing with the boys and then running through the good women and the not so good women at night, just a young Exotico (and please don’t get on me for being problematic here, I mean it in the best of ways) running game on life. Go on, young son, and seize the world that is yours. [NEIL]

#25: TIMOTHY FOSU-MENSAH (down six from last time; also previously ranked #25 for Fulham on 01-May-2019) – It seems I went all new race mixing with my dudes this time around. Did I do it on purpose, or was it just a subconsciousness type thing? I don’t know. I suspect it’s some of both as I always look to grab dudes who sound interesting to me which lends itself to this sort of thing and I know I am probably being problematic talking about it like this but fuck it, you bought the ticket, now you taking the ride baby, and I don’t want to have to apologize for just being me, even if it is an idiotic version of me and probably distasteful and racist in so much as I am just a white dude talking about black dudes like I have any sort of perspective to add which is absurd because I am just a dumb old white dude who sees things in strange ways and just wants everyone to be happy in their skin because we’re all just skeletons on the inside man, they don’t tell you that but it’s true. We’re all just skeletons. Anyway, Timothy Fosu-Mensah is another Dutch dude born to parents of another world, in this case Ghanaian, but Timothy Fosu-Mensah has always rolled with his Dutch national team and that’s cool, it would be shitty to tell a dude he had to rep a country not of his birth just because some people want to pat themselves on the back for being racially progressive or whatever the fuck and I suppose I have been guilty of this myself as I always like to see a dude play for his roots, but then again, that would make me have to play for some halfbreed Irish-Finnish-English-Germanic-French-Scandanavian hybrid national team which is just fucking ridiculous and you see how these things get inadvertently problematic and I am just a dumbass, please stop listening to anything I have to say, I just want to fuck a Latina and then be killed by her jealous friend in a Baja nightmare that is really just the best of dreams. What I’m saying is we’ve all got to find our happy little corner of the world to want to die in and fuck in before it’s all said and done. But Timothy Fosu-Mensah was never a true Crystal Palace man. No, he was always on loan from Manchester United and now he’s been loaned off to Fulham, but fuck it, get paid while you’re young and fuck who you can and that’s all any of us can do as we roll on together on this fucked up planet. [NEIL]